A report published by the Irish Farmers’ Association says Ireland’s cattle and sheep sector sustains 100,000 full-time jobs and has a total economic output of €5.7 billion.

It said that cattle and sheep production is a vital driver not only in farming, but also in the overall economy.

UCD professor Alan Renwick conducted the study using existing data and statistics.

He found that for every €1 in direct support received by cattle and sheep producers, €4 in economic output is generated.

The study also found that a further 10,000 jobs and €1.6bn in economic output could be achieved if the Government’s Harvest 2020 targets are reached.

Average incomes remain low with €8,000 for cattle farmers and €12,000 for sheep farmers, indicating that small scale holdings account for a large proportion of overall producers.